Do you mind that swear word o' his--'stroke'? It just meant 'damn'; but he could make even 'damn' look holy."

"You are to call the baby Tommy?"

"He'll be christened Thomas Sandys Shiach," said Corp. "I hankered after putting something out o' the Jacobites intil his name; and I says to Gavinia, 'Let's call him Thomas Sandys Stroke Shiach,' says I, 'and the minister'll be nane the wiser'; but Gavinia was scandalized."

Grizel reflected. "Corp," she said, "I am sure Gavinia's sister will expect to be asked to carry the baby. I don't think I want to do it."

"After you promised!" cried Corp, much hurt. "I never kent you to break a promise afore."

"I will do it, Corp," she said, at once.

She did not know then that Tommy would be in church to witness the ceremony, but she knew before she walked down the aisle with T.S. Shiach in her arms. It was the first time that Tommy and she had seen each other for seven years. That day he almost rivalled his namesake in the interests of the congregation, who, however, took prodigious care that he should not see it--all except Grizel; she smiled a welcome to him, and he knew that her serene gray eyes were watching him.



On the evening before the christening, Aaron Latta, his head sunk farther into his shoulders, his beard gone grayer, no other perceptible difference in a dreary man since we last saw him in the book of Tommy's boyhood, had met the brother and sister at the station, a barrow with him for their luggage. It was a great hour for him as he wheeled the barrow homeward, Elspeth once more by his side; but he could say nothing heartsome in Tommy's presence, and Tommy was as uncomfortable in his. The old strained relations between these two seemed to begin again at once. They were as self-conscious as two mastiffs meeting in the street; and both breathed a sigh of relief when Tommy fell behind.

"You're bonny, Elspeth," Aaron then said eagerly. "I'm glad, glad to see you again."

"And him too, Aaron?" Elspeth pleaded.

"He took you away frae me."

"He has brought me back." "Ay, and he has but to whistle to you and away you go wi' him again. He's ower grand to bide lang here now."

"You don't know him, Aaron. We are to stay a long time. Do you know Mrs. McLean invited us to stay with her? I suppose she thought your house was so small. But Tommy said, 'The house of the man who befriended us when we were children shall never be too small for us.'"

"Did he say that? Ay, but, Elspeth, I would rather hear what you said."

"I said it was to dear, good Aaron Latta I was going back, and to no one else."

"God bless you for that, Elspeth."

"And Tommy," she went on, "must have his old garret room again, to write as well as sleep in, and the little room you partitioned off the kitchen will do nicely for me."

"There's no a window in it," replied Aaron; "but it will do fine for you, Elspeth." He was almost chuckling, for he had a surprise in waiting for her. "This way," he said excitedly, when she would have gone into the kitchen, and he flung open the door of what had been his warping-room. The warping-mill was gone--everything that had been there was gone. What met the delighted eyes of Elspeth and Tommy was a cozy parlour, which became a bedroom when you opened that other door. "You are a leddy now, Elspeth," Aaron said, husky with pride, "and you have a leddy's room. Do you see the piano?"

He had given up the warping, having at last "twa three hunder'" in the bank, and all the work he did now was at a loom which he had put into the kitchen to keep him out of languor. "I have sorted up the garret, too, for you," he said to Tommy, "but this is Elspeth's room."

"As if Tommy would take it from me!" said Elspeth, running into the kitchen to hug this dear Aaron.

"You may laugh," Aaron replied vindictively, "but he is taking it frae you already"; and later, when Tommy was out of the way, he explained his meaning. "I did it all for you, Elspeth; 'Elspeth's room,' I called it.

Tommy and Grizel Page 22

James Barrie

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